Dai's walk around Wales blog - September 2019


1 September 2019

A stroke of luck happened this evening as I came across an event on Aberavon Beach requiring a commentator, the world gibberish body surfing championships. The event was won by Papua New Guinean, Eggledoo Smank who was actually the only competitor that turned up. Well done to Eggledoo and the organising team for a superb event. A video was made of the even which can be found on our you-tube channel.



5 September 2019

83.jpg (198311 bytes) I continued the process of learning to make videos by creating the Hatzoff twins with my friend Daniel. We visited the ice cream parlour / cafe managed by friend Rob Cresci to patake in his delicious ice cream. The video we created for youtube van be found by clicking on the link below.


The Hatzoff Twins review Cresci's of Skewen ice cream. Daniel and David Hatzoff review Cresci's of Skewen ice cream. One of the most important factors of the name Cresci is that it rhymes with Messi, Messi is a wonderful footballer and Cresci does wonderful ice cream. 


5-8 September 2019 - sunset on Aberavon Beach

85.jpg (184670 bytes) 84-ss-2019-09-05.jpg (167881 bytes) 5 September 2019 - Sunset walk on Aberavon Beach - I walked the shoreline again this evening and for the first time in ages spotted a couple of jellyfish. There were a ton of fish darting in and out of the shallow water including this rare type of dogfish (illustrated top left).
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6 September 2019 - The waves were quite large and this canoeist didn't see to be going anywhere so I got him in shot as the sun was setting. There was a lot of action happening in the shallows with couples hanging around, surfers arriving and leaving. My favourite shot is illustrated left with the surfer "walking on sunshire woooooohhhhh woooohh. 

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7 September 2019 - A big thanks to the kids in the skate park on Aberavon Beach for allowing me to photograph them as the sun was setting. 

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Once the sun had set we headed onto the shoreline and a walk in the shallows, there was a sea angling competition just packing up and heading home, with a ton of fish still left darting around in the shallows the evening sky pinked up beautifully for a superb after sunset glow. A glorious evening.


59-skp-2019-09-08d.jpg (241887 bytes) 8 September 2019 - Another big thanks to the kids in the skate park on Aberavon Beach for allowing me to photograph them as the sun was setting. Not a particularly good sunset but the scooting was just as good. Illustrated left and far right is Sam Jenkins.

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9/9/19 52.jpg (129772 bytes) 51.jpg (167417 bytes) I was in a meeting in Skewen and missing a glorious sunset so I rushed frantically to the high ground between Skewen and Jersey Marine - I thought there was a good spot with a view over Crymlyn Burrows but before I knew it I was in Jersey Marine so headed for the water and the Tennant canal to catch the post sunset reflections. There were some great clouds and everywhere was pink and this shot was the best I could do. 


watch the trailer on youtube - CLICK HERE

watch the full video on youtube - CLICK HERE

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13 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 1 - The Black Mountain

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Starting at Tafarn-y-Garreg, on day 1 of the sunrise and swim adventure I witnessed a fantastic sunrise on the Fan Hir ridge followed by a swim in Llyn y Fan Fach. Click on the link below for the...... 

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/neu_LEckbFc

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14 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 2 - Mumbles and the Ferry Bend

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Day 2 and I drove to Mumbles for sunrise, the photos I usually take of the lighthouse are from Aberavon or Jersey Marine Beaches so it was nice to get a new angle. As I was setting up walkers started to arrive for the McMillan Gower Coast walk, first to arrive was Phil, and he posed nicely for me with the pre-sunrise colours in the background. Returning home via Fabian Way, I parked up near the University and walked through Crymlyn Burrows to Jersey Marine beach and the Ferry Bend for my swim.

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/9C-TdJ3R-Ts

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15 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 3 - Cefn Bryn & Oxwich Bay

I was hoping for a mountain top sunrise today but the forecast for the mountains was zero visibility. The Gower peninsula on the other hand looked a possibility so I grabbed a map for the area and decided to wing the sunrise swim and walk. One thing I was certain about was that I wanted to view sunrise from Cefn Bryn, the highest point on the Gower and swim in Oxwich Bay. 

I arrived on Cefn Bryn and settled myself about 500 metres short of the summit with nice views over Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay with God's country in the distance. Camera and tripod were set up and with my video blog completed I settled down to watch the sunrise. In the distance I could see that I was not on my own............... I didn't see the sun but the pinking up was nice and substantial enough to call it a sunrise. 

I'd made a decision on the route I would take and headed off along the Cefn Bryn ridge path, one of the best walks in Wales. Being super nosy I checked out who else was viewing the sunrise and found it to be Tara Crank from Dryad BushcraftDryad Bushcraft are a company that specialises in bushcraft and wilderness training. 

Tara was up early enjoying life so after introductions I asked the obvious question "what can I eat". Tara headed for the nearest gorse bush and we shared a gorse bush flower breakfast. For me, it was pay back time, my legs having been ripped to shreds on many occasions by the Cefn Bryn gorse in orienteering events on the hill. Happy days

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Back onto the path and early morning runners and bikers started appearing with their dogs, then it was the long descent into Oxwich Bay via Penrice Castle and manor, Mill Wood,  St Andrew's Church, Penrice and Oxwich village. 

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The swim was interesting, the beach was a little busy so rather than swim out and back and leave my bag unattended, I marked an X in the sand, relayed it up the beach for 200mts, run back to my X and swam up to the bag, I repeated this quite a few times. I the end, the wind chill of being out of the water made me a cold so I knocked the swim/walk on the head after about an hour and 10 minutes. It was a shame really because the water was warmish, crystal clear and the sea almost pan flat. It was a really nice swim. I walked the remaining length of Oxwich Bay and ascended the hill to my parking spot in Penmaen. A lovely morning's walk & swim.   

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/9uV8ADwSRUY



16 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 4  - Moel Penderyn & Afon Hepste at Sgwd yr Eira

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Another rubbish forecast across south Wales gave me the opportunity to put into action my back up plan, it was pointless travelling any distance to see formations of white and grey strata cloud so I went local. Not that local is a poor option, I live on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and a flat stone's skip away from Waterfall Country (Pont Nedd-Fechan and Ystradfellte). The more rain at these locations, the better the views. 

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/sGPcAar4NxQ 


17 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 5 - Port Eynon point & beach

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The sun returned at sunrise for a short while at least. It was viewed it from Port Eynon point, the swim today was on Port Eynon beach and this was followed by a walk along the coastal path to the Sands, a small bay between Oxwich and Port Eynon. From there it was over the top to Oxwich, passing close by the castle before returning to the coastal path.

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Youtube video - https://youtu.be/wzqVBvxCFWo

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18 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 6 - Swim in the dark + Fan Fawr

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For the first time in the series I went for a swim before sunrise, the location is specified /hinted at in the video, see if you can guess where. For sunrise I headed to the top of Fan Fawr with the sun rising up behind the Gwaun Taf / Craig Fan Ddu ridge. 

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/vz1crnCYLNk


19 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 7 - Fan Gyhirych & a specified swim location

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Beautiful pink skies this morning over the Central Brecon Beacons. The photograph on the left was taken 15 minutes before sunrise.

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youtube video - https://youtu.be/_j5vGdkctns


20 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 8 - Fan Hir Ridge - the Carmarthen Fans & Llyn y Fan Fawr.

Fan Hir ridge from Fan Gyhirych


Walking in the early mornings uphill you get to think about things to keep your mind off reaching the tip as fast as you can, old habits die hard and I do like to push the pace when climbing but going fast uphill means two things, number one, you sweat more, number two you get cold quicker because your inner layers are wet and there is the wind chill factor to deal with. One thing I use to occupy my mind when trying to stay slow is a counting game and on this particular morning I was counting slugs v crane flies v beetles, the crane flies won in the end with about 25 to the slugs 18 and the beetles 5, the beetles were so poor I didn't even get a tidy photo of them but I did get a quarter decent one of a crane fly and two of slugs. The photo of the black slug shows right on his tail something that looks like eggs. I have no idea how a slug reproduces so its time to use google and find out because we should know these things................. 

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Writing on the website slate.com, Constance Casey says of the slug reproductive system........

"The love life of a slug—or at least its sex life—might have caused even Beckett to marvel. (“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”) When a slug goes into reproductive mode, it drops a chemical into its slime trail that sends the message of readiness. It can take a while for two slugs in heat to find each other, but once that happens, the pair might engage in foreplay for hours, sampling chemical secretions on each other’s surfaces. The nibbling often leads to biting and tail lashing. Most slugs mate on the ground, but Limax maximus, aka the leopard slug, produces a strong cable of slime by which the two lovers dangle from a tree.

In most kinds of slug, the penis is about half the length of its body. (“Is that a Kalashnikov in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?”) It’s not clear why such anatomical grandeur might be important for survival: Slug experts discount the idea that the oversize penis functions like a peacock tail, as a display of virility—they point out that the chemical signaling and seduction occurs before the magisterial organs even come into view. In any event, the chosen mate isn’t likely to be impressed, since most slugs possess both male and female sexual organs. During a single coupling, slugs can mate reciprocally—with each partner inseminating and being inseminated—or one can serve as the recipient.

With afterglow, the less enviable aspect of slug sex can occur. Here’s one major drawback to being both large and adhesive: The sexual organs sometimes get stuck. In this case one slug gnaws off the other’s penis in a process called apophallation. (The dispossessed slug then goes on with life as a female.) Inseminated slugs don’t lay their clusters of fertilized eggs right away; they store the sperm for later, delaying fertilization until the conditions are propitious for hatching offspring. When times get really tough, some species of slugs can fertilize themselves. 

But this still doesn't tell me if Mrs Black Slug has eggs on his back and I can't find a lot of info/images of slug eggs but the ones I've seen of eggs seem quite a bit larger than this slug is carrying so we'll put the question "is Mrs Black Slug carrying eggs' into the unknown file. 

   When I got to the top of the hill a couple of toads tried to gate crash the contest but they had placed their entry in far too late. onwards and upwards to the Fan Hir ridge for sunrise and the wind was up and blowing a good one. I tried a couple of videos and couldn't be heard for the sound of the wind and the camera kept blowing over as well. I abandoned the idea of a quality video and proceeded to head off to catch sunrise.

Following the Fan Hir ridge I headed off to circle around Llyn y Fan Fach and bumped into John (sorry I've forgotten his surname) out for a morning stroll and Paul Davies who was on a serious stroll heading all the way to Pen y Fan. I had a porridge stop at the Llyn-y-Fan Fach rescue shelter and traversed around the bottom of Picws Du, Tor-y-Foel and Fan Foel to Llyn-y-Fan Fach. This is a regular swimming haunt for me and probably the best swim in south Wales. 

Swim complete I headed off to my finish point at Tafarn-y-Garreg. 

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Youtube video - https://youtu.be/cO4_HhETaGE


21 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 9 - The Begwns, River Wye & The Black Mountains

I thought long and hard about today, my mate Willie Darcy was over from Ireland walking the Offas Dyke path and this was his day 4. His plan was to walk from Llananthony to Hay-on-Wye and I wanted to join him from Llanthony to Hay Bluff. After 150 mind changes I settled on an awesome plan and spotted it almost to perfection.

Sunrise - I headed for the Begwns range of hills near Painscastle and with a short walk from the car caught a stunning sun rising up from behind the Malvern Hills. This was the crowing glory of a previously pinky sky. I was an excited little boy skipping and jumping up and down and snapping away with my point and shoot image capturing device. 

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Then it was off for a.......... 

Swim - in the River Wye at Glasbury. I'd previously taken a kayak session here for army cadets about 30 years ao so I knew the river was swimmable. I did about 100 metres, skipped some stones and headed to Hay Bluff................

Hitchhike - I needed to be in Llanthony for a 9.30 start and I parked up at the Hay Bluff, American Werewolf in London car park started walking towards Llanthony with my thumb up hitching at around 8.10. The plan being if I didn't make it to Willie by 10.30 (he planned to start at 9.30 but was giving me an hour's grace to be late if I needed to be) I'd head straight up the mountain on the Offas Dyke path and walk in the opposite direction to Willie and meet him on the way. A complicated plan indeed but workable. Come 8.40 and not one car had passed so I allowed a bead of sweat to drip from my concerned brow. *.45 and the first car/truck appears, out goes the thumb and RESULT. Mr John Barber of Tymynydd stopped and let me in. John's little Jack Russell obligingly hopped into the back and then back onto my lap for the journey, what an awesome mutt. John is a builder / dry stone waller and with his partner they run a B&B near Hay-on-Wye. The Guardian have done a nice piece on the pair ( CLICK HERE to see this ). Here is a direct link to their Trip Advisor page - CLICK HERE and this is what one of their reviews says..........

"I can't recommend this place highly enough. The location is breath-taking"

Ty-mynydd, Llanigon, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire HR3 5RJ

Contact details 01497 821593, nikibarber@tiscali.co.uk,

sounds idyllic and it probably is based upon my experiences of walking the area. John was working on renovating a property about 3 miles from Llanthony so he dropped me a little short of my destination. Out went the thumb again and as it was rush hour in the Vale of Ewyas with a car every 5 minutes, these were mostly populated by 3 or 4 Englishmen in white shirts off to the pub no doubt to watch their team in the Rugby World Cup. There was no stopping these fellas when up came another truck and another top man local farmer Chris Price who dropped me at the Half Moon in Llanthony at 9.20am, 10 minutes to spare and time for a chat with the lady from Blaenavon waiting for a lift. The final result of the 'Pick a Welsh hitchhiker up' competition.......... 

Local farmers 2 - Cars full of Englishmen 0

Walk - ......... More to follow

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Youtube video - https://youtu.be/dicaJGhdQaU


22 September 2019 - Sunrise & Swim Series - Day 10 - Glynneath & the Neath Valley Triathlon

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For the 35th continuous year I dragged my body out of bed to take part in a triathlon and for the 10th day in a row of my Sunrise & Swim series . My body was following my head which was raring to go, one last effort and a definite lie in tomorrow, then back to work, not that I hadn't been averaging 6-8 hours a day in work for the series but back to focus on work in the run up to the end of my financial year which ends on September 30th.

I walked down to the Glynneath pool first thing (06.30) to complete the video blog. The sun remained hidden and the rain put in an appearance for the first time in 10 days. Paul 'Nipper' Evans showed up in registration and we go back 40+ years so we shared a few yarns, he was off early competing in his first triathlon. 

My start time wasn't until 11.00am so I walked backed via the river path, its a 3 mile round trip rode down on the bike later for my start. 


I try not to over exert myself in events nowadays, the body isn't what it used to be so I did the race, completed the course and hung up my race bike for another year. 

And so ended my 35th year in triathlon but more importantly my first ever Sunrise and Swim Adventure Series. Fun times. 

Youtube video - https://youtu.be/fMxlUU_cHdM

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youtube playlist - https://youtu.be/fMxlUU_cHdM?list=PL4KdmUCjgjVCg4D_3ddycTrzE7oAgYsXz

watch the trailer on youtube - CLICK HERE

watch the full video on youtube - CLICK HERE



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Port Eynon pre-swim - lives somewhere else


28 September 2019

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The cascade into the lime pool on the River Pyrddin just below Sgwd Gwladys. 






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